29 April 2005
After a wild video shoot for 'City of Blinding Lights' in Vancouver, a great first show in the city followed last night.
It was loud too and you don't take our word for it. Novelist William Gibson was here - he's writing a story for Wired Magazine - and having been at the second Seattle show (which is beginning to be viewed as one of the best shows on the tour so far) he remarked that tonight's reception from the audience was even more raucous. (Gibson knows U2 from way back - Bono even took part in a documentary about him filmed in the back of a limo - and he and his wife Deborah took the chance to catch up with Edge after the show, no doubt discussing the future of everything).
But there was a different kind of energy about the show tonight - maybe because the campaign to Make Poverty History (called the ONE campaign in the US) was so central a feature. There has been controversy in the Canadian press about differences between Bono and Prime Minister Paul Martin - centring on whether Canada will blaze a trail for other rich countries and deliver on its pledge to improve its financial contribution to fighting global poverty to 0.7%. If anyone thought Bono might duck the issue with Canadian fans - no chance!
'I wanted to say something about your Prime Minister Paul Martin if that's alright,' said Bono, introducing One, (to which there were no objections raised!) 'Now I told him I'd be a pain in the arse. I suppose this week I became one of many pains in the arse that is ..
'That's sad in a way because I am a fan of Paul Martin and I do believe he's a good man and I believe we're going to figure this thing out. What I'm talking about for those of you who are new to this is I think he's a great leader for Canada but that's what we want him to do - we want him to lead Canada. We want him to lead the world out of despair and poverty.
'Canada has a leading role to play and that is possible this year, at this year's G8.* It's a Canadian idea - point seven per cent. And it's a brilliant idea. Less than one percent of what Canada makes in a year... and I believe that if you people believe in it.. I believe that Paul Martin is the kind of person to listen to you...'
And there is a twist in the digital campaigning for Africa tonight. People are not invited to join the campaign but to call the Prime Minister himself - just like ZOO TV days when the powerful got a call from the stage. But this time, we're post-irony and this time it's the U2 fans making the call.
' I thought it might be good if we made a call to Paul Martin.' suggest Bono as the band play on behind him and the PM's number appears on the screens. 'Take your phones out. If anyone would like to take their cell phones out I think I've got Paul Martin's number. These are dangerous little devices, these cell phones.
'We want to make poverty history. This is the year. This is our prayer and we are more powerful if we work together as one. ...'
This was such a powerful and potent political moment that we don't need to say much more about tonight's show. But it's worth remembering how influential Canadians have been - another track tonight was dedicated to Dorothy Stowe, one of the founders of Greenpeace. Maybe Canadian fans at tonight's show will also change history!
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* The G8 Meeting of the leaders of the world's most powerful countries takes place in Scotland in July and tackling global poverty is on the agenda.